The Cut - 9 November 2012

Welcome to this instalment of The Cut, the AGCSA’s weekly email newsletter. In this edition we pay tribute to one of the true gentlemen of the Australian turf industry who last week retired after 52 years and look at the interesting addition to the landscape at Palmer Coolum Resort which will play host to the 2012 Australian PGA Championships in a little over a month’s time. Enjoy the read...

Mighty Mick bids farewell after incredible 52 years 

One of the true gentlemen of the Australian turf industry, Mick O’Shannessy (pictured), has retired after an incredible 52 years in the profession. The 65-year-old AGCSA member finished up as course superintendent at Hidden Valley Golf & Country Club just north of Melbourne last Wednesday, signalling the end of a turf management career that began back in 1961.  

Brought up in Dandenong, O’Shannessy left school at the age of 14 and was offered a job at Keysborough Golf Club working under Horrie Brown who oversaw the construction of the course and held the position of superintendent from 1948 to 1981. O’Shannessy spent over 14 years at Keysborough before stints at Tirhatuan Lakes Golf Course, Waverley Golf Club (private) and then managing his own business.

In 1993 O’Shannessy changed tacks when he took over as curator at the old AFL Park in Waverley. During that time he reconstructed the ground and brought it back up to a standard to host the AFL’s elite players for eight seasons. (Legend has it that Mick once cut the entire two-hectare AFL Park oval ahead of an AFL match with a Scott Bonnar walk-behind!)

In 2000 O’Shannessy jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the construction of the new Hidden Valley Golf Course development just outside of Wallan, north of Melbourne, with Densal. Built on the site of former horse stud and famous for its island green on the par 3 18th (pictured below), O’Shannessy oversaw the course construction and together with a small hardworking  maintenance team saw the course develop and mature over the past decade.

Hidden Valley's signature hole, the par 3 18th

“Hidden Valley has been a great experience and Densal has been an excellent company to work for,” O’Shannessy told The Cut this week. “It has been wonderful to see what was once a collection of horse paddocks develop into the championship golf course it has over the years.”

Throughout his career O’Shannessy developed a reputation as one of the hardest working superintendents/turf managers around and combined with his infectious trademark smile and love for the profession he won many admirers. O’Shannessy says he has no firm plans yet regarding his retirement, but is looking forward to spending more time with his three (soon to be four) grandchildren. Chances are, however, that he won’t be too much of a stranger to the industry and has already been offered to do a bit of work at the new Chirnside Park Golf Club development in Lilydale if he so wishes.

The AGCSA sincerely congratulates Mick, a long-time supporter of both the AGCSA and VGCSA, on a sterling career and wishes him a very happy, healthy, prosperous and well-deserved retirement. On ya Mick!

2013 Twin Waters Trade Exhibition on general sale

As of Monday (12 November 2012), booths for the 2013 Australian Turfgrass Conference Trade Exhibition will go on general sale. To date, only AGCSA Partner Recognition Programme members, AGCSA trade members and companies that exhibited at the 2012 Melbourne show have been allowed to book space.

Already well over half of the exhibition floorspace has been snapped up so the AGCSA encourages those companies that have yet to secure a booth to do so now to avoid disappointment.

Booths remaining as of 9 November 2012 are: 9, 10, 13, 14, 18, 22, 29, 30, 32-36.

Next year’s conference and trade exhibition will be held at Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast from 23-28 June. The two-day trade exhibition will be one of the central components of the week and provides a perfect opportunity for companies to promote their products and services to the industry. Click here to download a trade exhibition application form, or contact AGCSA general manager Peter Frewin or events and education manager Simone Staples.

Pros to tee up under the gaze of T-Rex 

The Australian PGA Championships on the Sunshine Coast is well renowned among Tour players as being one of the more laid back and enjoyable tournaments on the circuit. The weather, the location, the course and in recent years the tight finishes have all meant it has been a popular event for both player and spectator alike, but when the event returns from 13-16 December this year there will be one rather interesting addition to the landscape...

As the photo above shows, in recent days an 8m high, 20m long, 1.7 tonne Tyrannosaurus Rex has been erected outside the front of the Palmer Coolum Resort clubhouse (between the 9th green and 10th tee), as billionaire owner and mining magnate Clive Palmer embarks on an audacious plan to develop the world’s largest dinosaur park. According to recent reports in the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper, Palmer, who kicked out former managers Hyatt earlier in the year after acquiring the resort in 2011, plans on adding up to 160 of the creatures around the course and resort. Click here to read the Sunshine Coast Daily report and related articles

It was also reported this week that Palmer has bought Sea Temple Golf and Country Club in Port Douglas for $7 million. Sea Temple, which is currently maintained by Turnpoint with AGCSA member Alec Ross as course superintendent, joins Coolum (superintendent Dean Henderson) and Gold Coast-based clubs Colonial (superintendent Mark Hauff) and Robina Woods (superintendent Glenn Beauclerc) in the Palmer stable. 

And speaking of blokes with a lot of money...

It will be 35 years ago next week that The Australian Golf Club hosted the 1977 Australian Open, its first major tournament following the complete redevelopment of the course by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. AGCSA president and Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club superintendent Peter Lonergan stumbled across the following article on an online golf forum this week which appeared in the November 16, 1977 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly of all magazines outlining the work undertaken at the prestigious Sydney course, which was driven by then club member and media magnate Kerry Packer.  

The article, written by Nicholas Fox, has some classic quotes and turns of phrase. It lauds the new “Pentcross bent”, a “special type of grass” and reports that “The Australian had a ground staff of nine, but at the height of the $1 million remodelling this swelled to 85.” Click here to download the article. 

The article might make interesting reading for the club’s current course superintendent and AGCSA member Phil Beal (pictured right) who is presently overseeing another significant chapter in the club’s history. This winter saw the club embark on the complete reconstruction of all 18 greens and surrounds with the new surfaces projected to be back in play come March 2013 (see below a 25 October aerial photo, courtesy of Nearmap, showing the ongoing works – the clubhouse is to the left and first green to the far right). Keep an eye out for an article in a future edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal.


'Experimentalist' Penbo departs DAFF turf team

Last week signalled the end of affable turf experimentalist Jon Penberthy’s tenure with the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry’s (DAFF) Turf Research team at Redlands. As was reported back in the 14 September edition of The Cut, the Redlands facility was victim of the Queensland State Government’s sweeping public sector cuts, with more than 25 staff members, including Penberthy (pictured) and lifestyle horticulture team head Matt Roche, told their positions were to go.  Penberthy, a former golf course superintendent at Gainsborough Greens and Tewantin Noosa golf clubs and a past AGCSA board member, finished up last Friday (2 November), with remaining staff set to finish up at various times during the coming month. 

Penberthy held the role of Turf Experimentalist - Technical Officer at Redlands for five years during which time his professionalism and golf course experience significantly strengthened Redlands’ experimental capabilities. He was heavily involved in a number of projects including Management Guidelines for New Warm-Season Grasses in Australia (HAL Project TU05001), Traffic Tolerance of Warm-Season Turfgrasses under Community Sportsfield Conditions (HAL Project TU08018), Ryegrass Transitioning in Couch Turf (HAL Project TU10015) with STI (Aust.) and maintenance of the Redlands warm-season turfgrass collection (HAL Project TU09002). The future of the Redlands facility is still uncertain, however, negotiations are ongoing to keep the ‘Living Library’ collection which houses over 170 different varieties of warm-season turfgrass.

Jim Porter takes over Holmesglen TAFE role

Jim Porter (pictured) has been appointed by Holmesglen TAFE in Melbourne as head of its turf management section. The former Royal Melbourne Golf Club course superintendent of 20-plus years has been working as a sessional teacher since the start of 2012 and replaces Brett Chivers who recently departed to join Globe as a turf client manager. Porter will start his new role on 19 November and can be contacted on 0418 587 916 or email

Heading to San Diego in 2013...?

The AGCSA is interested to know how many Australian turf industry practitioners and representatives are planning on heading over to the 2013 GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show which will be held in San Diego from 4-8 February. At last year's Las Vegas show the AGCSA organised a get-together for Australian delegates and we are looking at doing something similar again should numbers be sufficient. If you are intending on heading Stateside for the 2013 conference, please contact AGCSA general manager Peter Frewin by email

Australian Turfgrass Management - Volume 14.6

The November-December 2012 edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal (Volume 14.6) is out now. As the image (right) shows this edition’s cover story focuses on bowls, more specifically the upcoming 2012 World Championships to be held at Lockleys and Holdfast Bay bowling clubs in Adelaide from 24 November to 9 December.

ATM editor Brett Robinson catches up with greenkeepers Brad Porter and Kevin Lewis to look at their preparations and also discovers that one of the turf industry’s own – Grange Bowling Club greenkeeper Wayne Ruediger – will be part of the 10-strong Australian team which enters the tournament as one of the favourites. Elsewhere in Vol. 14.6 of ATM:

  • Tony Ireland Stadium curator Paul Sanson recounts his wicket and oval preparations for the recent Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup;
  • Bonnie Doon Golf Club course superintendent David Scaife looks back at the first stage of the club’s reconstruction works;
  • A group of Melbourne course superintendents reflect on their 25-day study tour of the US, UK and mainland Europe;
  • John Neylan looks at nematode management in the latest instalment of his column;
  • ATM editor Brett Robinson reviews the recent Perth International; and
  • All the latest state reports, news from around the trade, AGCSATech Update and The Pulse which this edition looks at staff discipline.

Please note if you have not renewed your AGCSA membership for the 2012-2013 financial year you will not receive this edition of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal. To ensure you keep receiving your copy, renew your membership by contacting AGCSA membership manager Lyndel Conway on (03) 9548 8600 or email

If you have any story ideas, news, photos or items of interest for Australian Turfgrass Management Journal, don’t hesitate to contact editor Brett Robinson on (03) 9548 8600, 0434 144 779 or email
Click here to subscribe to Australian Turfgrass Management Journal.

Bookshop - Rootzones, Sands and Topdressing

The AGCSA has a number of copies of Dr Stephen Baker’s ‘Rootzones, Sands and Topdressing Materials for Sports Turf’ published the STRI (UK). The quality of a sporting surface heavily relies on the soil or growing medium used in its construction and this 112-page book packs in more than 25 years of research conducted by the UK’s leading turf body. Chapters include characterisation of sands, rootzones and topdressing; sources and properties of sands; sands and sand-dominated rootzones in sports turf construction; soils for cricket pitches and tennis courts, topdressing; supply, testing and ordering of materials; and guidelines for sands, rootzones and topdressing material. AGCSA members can pick up a copy for just $42 (non-members $58). To order contact Lyndel Conway at the AGCSA or call (03) 9548 8600.

To see what other books the AGCSA currently has in stock or can order in, please click here. 

Other News

Good luck to...

... the following AGCSA and state superintendent association members who are preparing their courses for major events in the coming week.

Dunheved Golf Club, NSW (superintendent John Berry, pictured top): Dunheved Legends Pro-Am, 12 Nov.

Woodlands Golf Club, VIC (superintendent Rod Tatt, pictured second from top): Betstar Melbourne Golf Invitational Pro-Am, 12 Nov. 

Richmond Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Mark Williams): Richmond Coca-Cola Pro-Am, 13 Nov.

Eastlake Golf Club, NSW (superintendent Nathan Bradbury): John Newell Mazda Eastlake Legends Pro-Am, 13 Nov.

Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club, (superintendent Shane Dawson), Gold Creek Country Club (superintendent Scott Harris, pictured middle) & Federal Golf Club (superintendent Mark Thomson) all ACT: Men’s & Women’s ACT Senior Amateur Championships, 13-15 Nov.

Moonah Links, VIC (superintendent Kyle Wilson): Australian Mid-Amateur Championships, 14-16 Nov.

Kingston Heath Golf Club, VIC (superintendent Hayden Mead, pictured second from bottom): Talisker Masters, 15-18 Nov.

Royal Hobart Golf Club, TAS (superintendent Steve Lewis, pictured bottom): Women’s Tas Senior Amateur and Women’s 72-hole Stroke Play Championships, 18-20 Nov. 

If you have a major event coming up at your club and would like it mentioned in The Cut, or if you have recently held a major event and would likes to share some photos of your course with fellow readers of The Cut, then please email details to AGCSA editor Brett Robinson
AGCSA Water Initiative - click here to go to our Water Management Portal. AGCSA Golf Environmental Initiative - click here to go to our Golf Environmental Initiative Portal.